Article 16: Merit Promotion Procedures

Section 1

The Employer's policy is to provide a fair and systematic approach for the identification, evaluation, and competitive selection of employees for promotion to bargaining unit positions on the basis of merit principles. Actions taken under this Article shall be made without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, marital status, age, religion, sexual orientation, parental status, gender identity, genetic information, labor organization affiliation or non-affiliation, or non-disqualifying disability and shall be based solely on job-related criteria.

The purpose of this Article is to ensure selection of the most qualified candidates for vacant positions. The procedures in this Article do not apply to the Agency's hiring of new employees except where required by law, rule, or regulation; rather the Article deals primarily with internal merit promotions. Article 17 (Reassignments), provides additional procedures the Employer will follow to enable current employees to be considered for vacant positions.

Under the terms of this Article, the Employer is not required to fill a vacant position with a current employee but this Article does provide for promotions to be made fairly, and for promotion practices that will support the Agency's efforts to select the best qualified persons in any given instance.

The Employer may choose the method of filling a vacant position using any of its hiring authorities so long as civil merit procedures and the terms of this Agreement are followed.

Section 2

To reach a broader and more demographically diverse pool of potential candidates, all SEC bargaining unit position openings will be announced in SEC Today with a brief description and hyperlink to the full job announcement that will appear on both USAJOBS and in a designated section of the Agency’s Intranet or on another internal electronic system.

Section 3

The provisions of this Article apply only to competitive merit promotions to bargaining unit positions that are also:

1. promotions to positions that have higher promotion potential;

2. temporary promotions or details to higher graded positions for more than one hundred twenty (120) days; or

3. reassignments, details, or demotions or changes to lower grade, to positions that have known higher promotion potential except as permitted by reduction- in-force regulations;

Section 4

The provisions of this Article do not apply to the following categories:

1. career ladder promotions;

2. promotions resulting from an employee's position that has been reclassified at a higher grade because of an accretion of duties, as long as the duties are included into the higher level position and there are no other employees to whom the higher level duties could be assigned;

3. temporary promotions made permanent without further competition if the temporary promotions were originally made under a competitive merit posting that provided for such promotion;

4. temporary promotions or details to higher graded positions for 120 days or less;

5. promotions that result from application of new classification standards or the correction of a classification action;

6. internships;

7. summer employees;

8. student temporary employees;

9. re-promotion to a grade previously held;

10. transfers-in of federal employees to positions with higher promotion potential than the ones currently occupied; and

11. reinstatement of former career or career conditional employees to permanent or temporary positions with higher potential than the positions previously held.

Section 5

When the area of consideration for competitive merit promotions is not limited to Agency employees, bargaining unit employees will be simultaneously considered with other applicants. Eligible bargaining unit employees seeking reassignment to a vacant posted position also may be considered for the vacancy pursuant to the procedures outlined in Article 17 (Reassignments).

Section 6

Prior to filling a position through an action described in Section 3 and excluding actions described in Section 4 of this Article, announcements of competitive merit promotions will be announced in SEC Today with a brief description and hyperlink to the full job announcement that will appear on both USAJOBS and on a designated section of the Agency’s Intranet or on another internal electronic system with:

1. the announcement number;

2. the title, occupational series, grade, organization, and location of the position;

3. career ladder;

4. area of consideration;

5. a brief description of the duties and responsibilities of the position and an indication where additional information may be obtained;

6. whether the position is a full or part-time position;

7. whether the position is a permanent or time-limited appointment;

8. whether one or multiple positions are available;

9. required minimum qualifications, including selective placement factors;

10. quality ranking factors;

11. a list of any evaluative methods which may be used by the rating panel or official, such as interviews and tests;

12. application procedures and where to submit applications;

13. opening and closing dates for acceptance of applications;

14. statement of equal employment opportunity; and

15. whether moving and relocation expenses will be paid.

Amended announcements will indicate that they have been modified.

Section 7

Competitive merit promotion announcements will be open for a minimum of ten (10) business days. The Agency will separately rate, rank, and assess, both internal and external candidates for all such vacancies. The rating, ranking, and assessment of the certificate(s) for internal candidates will be determined according to the procedures set forth in this Article.

Section 8

The area of consideration is the area in which an active search of candidates is made. The minimum area of consideration is that area in which it can be reasonably expected that a sufficient number of qualified employees will be located. When bargaining unit positions are filled under the provisions of this Article, the minimum area of consideration is Agency-wide, unless the Employer determines that a sufficient number of qualified applicants will be found within a more limited area of consideration.

Section 9

An employee interested in a competitive merit promotion must submit all necessary application materials identified in the competitive merit promotion announcement by the specified closing date.   Applications may be withdrawn at any time. If an employee wishes to withdraw their application for a competitive merit promotion, they must submit a written withdrawal to the Office of Human Resources.

Section 10

A. Merit promotion certificate(s) will be issued with the names of well qualified candidates listed in alphabetical order. Well qualified candidates will be determined by using a cut-off score of 90. The certificate will include the names and application materials of the referred applicants. If the competitive merit promotion position was posted at more than one grade, a separate list (developed in accordance with the above) may be issued for each grade.

B. Upon receiving a certificate and/or a list of candidates, the selecting official will have the option to interview all candidates or further narrow the applicant pool. If the Employer chooses to further narrow the applicant pool, the Employer may appoint a résumé screening panel comprised of at least two members to evaluate the qualifications of the applicants for the competitive merit promotion. All résumé screening panel members will be of the same or higher grade as the full performance level of the position to be filled through the competitive merit promotion. The selecting official will not be a member of the résumé screening panel.

C. The résumé screening panel will evaluate eligible applicants against the quality ranking criteria established for the position. The résumé screening panel may request guidance from OHR in carrying out its responsibilities.

D. The résumé screening panel will provide a fair and objective assessment of each applicant's qualifications for the position. The résumé screening panel’s evaluations will be based on the evaluation criteria established by the Employer for the competitive merit promotion and the application materials provided by the applicants. The résumé screening panel will apply the evaluation criteria to each applicant in as uniform and consistent a manner as possible.

E. The rating system used by the résumé screening panel in its evaluation of applicants shall be based on the applicants' ability to perform in the posted position. To the maximum extent possible, the rating system will be   described in terms of observable, objective, and measurable criteria. Applicants meeting the required minimum qualifications for the competitive merit promotion will be rated.

F. After a résumé screening panel provides its recommendation to the selecting official, the selecting official may establish an interview panel to interview applicants on the certificate. If multiple rounds of interviews are conducted, the selecting official will not participate in interviews until the final round. If there is more than one referral list, the selecting official may direct the interview panel to interview applicants on one or more referral lists. The interview panel may then make a written recommendation of certain applicants to the selecting official. The selecting official will then decide whether to interview only the applicants recommended by the interview panel or to consider additional applicants. If the selecting official interviews any applicant who was not recommended by the interview panel, the selecting official will interview all qualified bargaining unit applicants.

Section 11

An employee selected for a competitive merit promotion will be promoted and paid at the salary of the higher grade at the beginning of the first full pay period following the date of the selection on the certificate.

Section 12

Each applicant who has not been selected for the competitive merit promotion will be notified, normally within ten (10) business days, of the final selection. However, in no event will the employee be formally notified later than twenty (20) business days after the date of the final selection on the certificate.

Upon request, each applicant will be provided the following information within twenty (20) business days regarding their application for a competitive merit promotion under this Article:

1. Whether the employee met the required minimum qualifications;

2. Whether the employee was in the group from which the selection was made; and

3. The name of the person selected for the position.

A bargaining unit applicant on the certificate who is not selected for the competitive merit promotion may request feedback from the selecting official or their designee (e.g., a member of the interview panel or the division or office’s administrative officer or business manager) as to why they were not selected. If requested, the feedback will typically be provided within 7 calendar days. The Employer will maintain the file on each promotion action covered by this Article for two years. Promotion files will be kept in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Section 13

An employee's leave balances, request(s) to use leave, or use of any type of approved leave may not be considered by rating panels, resume screening panels, or selecting officials as a basis for selection or non-selection. However, this does not preclude the consideration of the employee's dependability if the employee has been on a leave restriction within the preceding 12 months.

An employee will not be denied or have a promotion delayed solely because the employee is the subject of an investigation for misconduct. The fact that an employee has not previously applied for, accepted or resigned a prior competitive merit promotion may not be considered by rating panels, resume screening panels, or selecting officials in the evaluation of candidates or as a basis for selection or non-selection.

Section 14

If an employee was improperly omitted from a certificate, they will receive priority consideration for the next appropriate merit promotion vacancy for which they are qualified. An appropriate merit promotion vacancy is one in the same geographical location with the same title, occupational series, grade, and career ladder that has the same promotion opportunities as the position for which the employee did not receive proper consideration.

Priority consideration means that the employee's application will be submitted to the selecting official before the selecting official reviews the applications of any other qualified applicants. An employee is entitled to only one priority consideration under this Section.

If two or more employees are entitled to priority consideration for the same merit promotion, their names will be submitted to the selecting official in alphabetical order, accompanied by their application materials.

If a priority consideration applicant is not selected, the Employer will, upon employee request, prepare a written statement of the reasons why. A copy of this statement will be provided to the employee within twenty (20) business days of the employee’s request.

Section 15

On or before November 1 of each year, the Employer will provide the Chapter President with a report for the preceding fiscal year of the number of bargaining unit positions posted and the number of these positions filled by bargaining unit employees. This information will be listed by grades, series, and titles, and by Division/Office/Regional Office. It will also include the number of applicants referred to selecting officials.